A lot of high-profile Horse Racing events around the world can trace their history back over a hundred years and the Cheltenham Festival is no exception. First held back in 1860, the festival has been hosted in a number of different venues before settling in its now iconic home at Cheltenham Racecourse at Prestbury Park. The usually quiet but racing mad town has the eyes of the Horse Racing world on it for four days in March every year as the pinnacle of the racing calendar rolls into town.
In this guide, we will take you through the many races that make up the festival and we’ll offer some tips on how you can make your Cheltenham Festival betting more successful.
If you’re ready to learn more about the Cheltenham Festival and Horse Racing, read on.
Cheltenham Festival Races
Perhaps this highlight of the entire Cheltenham Festival is the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Run over 3 miles 2 furlongs on the final day of the festival, this prestigious race is the one which all connections want to win.
For many, the Gold Cup carries higher prestige than the Grand National, if not the prize pool, and it is undoubtedly the pinnacle of the betting action over the four days. First run in 1924, the Cheltenham Gold Cup has produced plenty of drama over the years and, as it approaches its 100th anniversary, it’s a focal point for bookmaker promotions, Cheltenham betting offers and the battle between punters and bookmakers.
Whilst the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the standout event, every race at the festival is of the highest quality, with all but four races being Class 1s. Each day has a ‘championship’ race; day 1 hosts the Unibet Champion Hurdle, day 2 has the Champion Chase, day 3 is home to the unofficial fourth championship race, the Ryanair Chase, with the Gold Cup held on day 4. In-between these four is a wealth of other top-class races, including the Supreme Novice Hurdle, the Arkle and the Stayers Hurdle, amongst many others.
We’ll run through the full Cheltenham race card as we move through this preview, but for now let’s see what it will take to pick out some winners.
How to bet on the Cheltenham Festival - tips and naps
The Festival is truly unique as both a racing and betting spectacle, and the battle between backers and layers is a fevered one year in and year out. So, how do you go about finding a winner at Cheltenham? As with any betting proposition in racing, the key element to start with is your horses form over the season, focusing on performance over the same or similar distance to the race in question, as well as how they run on the ground conditions (known as Going) that will be present on the day.
An additional factor at the Cheltenham Festival, however, is how your horse has run at previous Cheltenham Festivals, or, failing that, at the course itself. Cheltenham is a unique course already, with its famous hill at the finish meaning it is vital horses have the stamina to get home. On top of that, when it comes to the Festival the atmosphere is electric, the crowds are loud and the preliminaries before the race are a whole new ball game for a lot of horses. All this means that some horses just can’t cope and can lose the race before they even line up, getting buzzed up and excitable and expending a lot of energy which was needed for the race. So, always check your horses form at Cheltenham, and if possible, at previous Cheltenham festivals.
Next, it can pay to look at Trainer, Jockey and even Owner records at both the Festival and individual races. Certain trainers excel at training certain types of horse, who in turn are aimed at certain races. Unibet Ambassador Nicky Henderson, for example, is the most successful trainer in the history of the Unibet Champion Hurdle, having won it 7 times, so it’s always worth noting his horses when evaluating the race and finding a bet. Barry Geraghty is the most successful active jockey at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, having ridden 38 winners, so again it could pay to bear in mind that he knows what it takes to get a horse home in front at the Festival.
In the seven years leading up to the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, only two trainers have won the leading trainer award. Willie Mullins has claimed this achievement on five occasions while Gordon Elliott has two successes. So again, whilst it of course doesn’t mean they will win every race, their horses will always turn up to any race at Cheltenham with a good chance of winning.
It is also always worthwhile to watch one of the many Cheltenham previews which are available in the lead up to the festival. They can be a great way to get insight from both experts in the Horse Racing field as well as trainers and jockeys who will be competing at the festival, making the information given invaluable when it comes to picking winners. Unibet held their own Cheltenham preview with a stellar line up, which can be found in the video below:
And finally, one of the best ways to maximise your returns at the Festival is to make the most of the vast array of bookmaker promotions on offer. From money back on losing bets to enhanced odds and extended Each Way place terms, bookmakers are always fighting to offer the best deals and promotions. So do your research and find out the best way to maximise a win or insure a loss.
At Unibet we are offering our headline 15 To Go promotion on all ITV races. If you back a winner in the 15 minutes before the start of a race, we will match your stake with a free bet up to £20. We are also giving all eligible customers 7 Uniboosts on each day of the Festival, to ensure you can boost the price of a horse of your choice on every race throughout Cheltenham.
Cheltenham Races Dates & Time
1:30 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
2:10 – Racing Post Arkle
2:50 – Ultima Handicap Chase
3:30 – Unibet Champion Hurdle
4:10 – Close Brother Mares’ Hurdle (Registered as David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle)
4:50 – Northern Trust Company Novice Handicap Chase
5:30 – National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders Novice Chase
1:30 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
2:10 – RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase
2:50 – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
3:30 – Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase
4:10 – Glenfarcas Chase
4:50 – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
5:30 – Weatherby Champion Bumper
1:30 – Marsh Novices’ Chase (Registered as the Golden Miller)
2:10 – Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle
2:50 – Ryanair Chase (Registered as The Festival Trophy)
3:30 – Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle
4:10 – Brown Advisory & Merribelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase
4:50 – Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Registered as The Dawn Run)
5:30 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase
1:30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle
2:10 – Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle
2:50 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Registered as The Spa Novices’ Hurdle)
3:30 – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase
4:10 – St James’s Palace Foxhunter Challenge Cup
4:50 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup
5:30 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
With so many top-class races at the Cheltenham Festival, it is the highlight of the jumps racing season and attracts the best horses, jockeys and trainers from around the UK, Ireland and beyond. The biggest races of course are the most popular with punters, but don’t fall into the trap of ignoring the big handicap races. These are the races with huge fields, which results in much bigger odds at both the top and bottom end of the betting market. The handicap nature of the races means that, in theory, every horse has a chance to win. So, with some in depth research and perhaps a bit of luck, these are the races where you can really win big.